Review: The ePM agency, label and distributor celebrates 20 years with a series of split EPs focused on techno, electro and house. First up is the techno release, with ePM attracting a stellar line-up to contribute. Robert Hood drops the eerie "Shadows", where menacing organs and steely percussion come together for a mesmerising slice of minimal techno. Ben Sims conjures up dense, tribal drums, interspersed with haunting wind chimes on "Xotnuc", while James Ruskin delivers the tough, steely rhythm of "There Was A Time". Remaining at the tougher end of the spectrum, the always consistent Mark Broom brings this part of ePM's celebrations to a close with the cavernous, pounding groove of "The Three Swords".
Review: The idea that music should stay away from politics is flawed, and Break The Silence is one of the most convincing counter-arguments against this notion. Featuring unreleased tracks donated by a stellar cast of underground electronic music artists, the compilation seeks to raise funds for Campaign Zero, an initiative that campaigns against police violence in the US. With artists like Rob Hood, 4 Hero and Luke Slater all contributing to Break The Silence, the listener really is spoilt for choice while also supporting a great cause. However, the standouts come from Eddie Fowlkes and Jon Dixon, who both drop superb jazz-influenced house tracks.
Review: Hardgroove have released some serious names in the techno scene before now - the likes of Mella Dee, Borrowed Identity and Charles Green. It's no surprise considering Ben Sims is at the helm, and that equally explains the fact that the legendary Mark Broom has graced the label with his latest set of taut, main room club cuts. "Outta Sight" is a mean-tempered workout with a whiff of electro in the lead synth refrain, but it's not as outwardly malevolent as noisy juggernaut "L4LV". "Five/Four" has big room chords and massive splashing rides to get fists shaking - the consummate peak time belter. "TR1" takes things in a more dungeon-esque direction, using guttural rhythmic incisions to drag you into the depths of the night.
Review: Sims and Degiorgio's Machine parties have reinvigorated London's techno scene and it's fair to say that the label is having a similar effect. At a time when their peers have either fallen into a minimal hole or are rediscovering their hastily assembled Goth pasts, the duo keep their heads down and focused on making deadly techno. The title track comes from Sims' studio and is a driving, filtered beast fuelled by razor sharp percussion. On "Strike 2", Sims notches up the pressure, with dark droning pulses joining the rhythmic heaviness. Degiorgio also acquits himself well; "Dark Fire" is like a distant cousin to "Strike 2", covered in splurging acid lines and ticking percussion, while "Dread" is led by tough drums and a brooding hoover bassline.
Review: After four solid years of tough linear club techno that's not budged from the morals Truncate set on day one, the first remix package for his music finally arrives. Mark Broom and Ben Sims - long-time stalwarts of straight club constructions - make a more than suitable choice to redefine these first few tracks. Sims takes on "Dial" and "Bodega", re-channelling the filters and adding extra white noise percussion to the former while reducing the bulky minimalism of the latter. Broom adds extra rim-shots, Chicagoan clutter and speckles of dub to "Jack" while Truncate himself chips in with his own tribal rework of "Concentrate" from 2011.
Review: Two of UK techno's most experienced producers go head to head on this new release on Sims' label. Allen Saei aka Aubrey has been making dance floor friendly yet esoteric techno for nearly twenty years, but "Centrifuge Azul" marks a shift in his approach. Screeching riffs and gritty beats are combined for one of Saei's most visceral tracks to date. There's a similar approach on "Neurosis", but on that occasion, wild acid lines and dark, noisy percussive bursts are combined over insistent filters. "Double Image" is heavy duty material too, with thunder claps and a buzzsaw bass dominating the arrangement. Try as he might, the heavy drums and insistent filtering on Sims' version of "Double Image" can't quite match this intensity.
Review: For the third and final part of Disco Trix 4, Sims again revisits his disco roots. "Raise Your Hands" is based on a larger than life rolling, filtered rhythm that houses samba samples, sassy stabs and loads of Spanish language vocals. It sounds like Sims took a few weeks off from making banging techno and spent his free time sipping pina coladas on the Costa Del Sol. Mr G's take on "Hands" is far moodier. Turning the original into a lean, jacking rhythm, he adds in thundering claps and jarring bleeps to create a relentless, heads-down workout for peak-time usage.
Review: The second section of Volume 4 sees Sims move from disco evangelist back to loopy terrain. That said, the UK producer's new version of his "Freaks" track isn't just standard one-note monotony, and in its new format, the rolling tribal rhythm features a female vocal claiming 'I'm gonna miss you right now' alongside the 'it goes like this' sample that was used on Run DMC's chart hit "It's Like That". Gary Beck's take on "Love & Hurt" is just as distinctive; over a slamming rhythm, he unleashes screeching riffs that are reminiscent of Daft Punk's 90s techno classic, Indo Silver Club.
Review: Ben Sims is in playful mood on this first installment of Volume 4. Putting his hard techno signature on hold but maintaining a high-octane approach, "Love & Hurt" is a slamming, rolling disco groove, peppered with a series of vocal samples ranging from the seemingly innocuous - "I'll take you in" - to the more provocative - "work this pussy". Sims has recruited KiNK to rework "Freaks", and his version is in keeping with the general tone of the Disco Trix series. Starting with a pitched down vocal and a tracky rhythm, the track culminates with a screeching diva vocal and churning, relentless filters.
Review: It's hard not to admire Ben Sims' ability to reinvent himself. On "Something", he delivers a typical slamming tribal groove, but it features noisy, crashing percussion and a vocal intoning 'there's something inside', which is culled from the kind of hardcore record that he used to play back in the day. Sims' own remix features splintered rhythms and insistent claps over hammering beats, while his choice of remixers is also of a high quality; Truncate's take features merely a snippet of the vocal over hammering beats that lead into a deep chord sequence, while the Rivet version is more stripped back and laced with bugged out acid lines.
Review: Sims made his name as a DJ, but increasingly, his productions are proving to be impressive. The title track is a huge club track: based on steely, slamming beats, it features a whooshing filter and jarring, discordant riffs, while its 'in my life' and 'hardcore sucker' samples provide a reminder about Sims' own rave background. Orlando Voorn's "Search & Destroy" remix also mines the past and sees the Dutch producer drop heavy claps and evil siren riffs. Ritzi Lee's version is more restrained, featuring a walking funk bassline, and even the siren riffs that cascade in over the arrangement sound tame by comparison.
Review: Ben Sims's label delivers a diverse but hard-hitting three-tracker. The label boss is first up and "Bite This" sees him sever the links with his loopy past. It's still a repetitive track, but as its basis Sims deploys a pulsing electronic groove and firing percussion, while a malevolent riff makes the transition from jarring and abrasive to atmospheric and eerie. Ritzi Lee travels a similar path on "Reverse Processed", where snappy percussion and a nagging bassline underpin metallic stabs and jarring riffs that reach out into the darkness. By contrast, Paul Mac's "Dry Run" is a more soulful experience. Despite the proliferation of spiky, metallic drums, it's the screeching, slightly deranged male vocal that stands out.
Review: Sims has gone back to his roots for his second release on Hardgroove this week. The vocal version of "Dollar Bill Y'all" revisits the late 90s/early 00s period, with insistent drums supporting intense filter builds and a ponderous black vocal. The instrumental version sees Sims get busy with stabbing techno chords and a series of effective breakdowns, while his approach is more musical on "In The Middle". There, a hard funking track provides the backing for the kind of jazzy piano keys that made I:Cube's "Disco Cubizm" a classic. Sims also has a softer side and as "Reject" demonstrates, this is articulated through skipping drums and deep chords.
Review: It's slamming techno all the way as Hardgroove drops four killer remixes. Advent and Industrialyzer are the first to tackle "Welcome to the Club" and do so in a typically up-tempo fashion, with rolling, dense techno abandon. The duo is mindful of Sims's disco fixation and amid the intense, doubled-up beats; vocal snippets and subtle filters are audible. Sims's own version is more restrained, but only slightly, as a series of smart drops support his filters. It's a similar situation on his take on "Gotta Have House", but the bassline is darker and rumbling and the undercurrent more menacing. Finally, the Paul Mac take on "House" is the most distinctive remix, with a double bass and insistent, rolling drums fused with what sounds like a car alarm filtered through a space invader console.
Review: After the rip-roaring reception that the Skudge remix of "Slow Motion" received, who better to raise the bar on this series of Theory 12"s than Robert Hood? Ben Sims' original track "Straight From Bolivia" is a stripped workout, showing his more minimal side but no less focused on tough techno principles. Robert Hood however takes "New Blood" and turns it into a fearsome peak-time smasher, working around a pneumatic groove and artfully looped vocal hits. It's a very housey kind of 'serious' techno, not unlike the last remixers for Theory (Skudge), and Hood nails it with ease.
Review: It's been a while since a Theory joint graced our ears but Ben Sims returns to his imprint to bring us a taste of his warmer, deeper take on techno. "New Blood" is all about the dubby chords and distorted hats, making for the perfect slice of techno refreshment in the context of tougher stuff to be found at this tempo. Meanwhile the Skudge boys get stuck into "Slow Motion", reducing the original to a heavily grooving beat workout with just a whisper of melody that gradually morphs into a nasty late-night steamer, bringing that touch of sexiness to techno that they do so well.
Review: For those who had assumed Sims was merely a loop techno producer, 0401 provides a pleasant surprise. The UK producer's love of slamming beats and dense, claustrophobic rhythms is present and correct, but on this occasion it sounds like there is a more fluid, dynamic approach at play. This is due to the use of rasping percussion and a malevolent filter that rises through the track. Former UR operative Rolando shows that he hasn't lost his magic touch on the remix of "New Blood". Coruscating drums and a wild acid line make for a thrilling combination, but Rolando hasn't forgotten his house leanings and the swinging rhythm also features a repetitive vocal sample.
Review: Reactions to the news that Marcel Fengler was going to mix Berghain 05 focused on the fact that he is the club's most overlooked resident. This is to do Fengler a disservice and to understand the club in the narrowest context possible. If anything, the trajectory Fengler follows here defines the broad brush strokes played out in the Berlin club. There's the eerie intro which moves from Dettmann's vocal version of Emika's "Count Backwards" into Peter Van Hoesen's spacey, bleeping "Axis Mundi". Classic sounds always form an integral part of Fengler's approach and this is evident on Octogen's widescreen yet menacing electro reshape of Terrence Dixon, the wiry 90s minimalism of Ratio and in the alternate version of Secret Cinema's chord-heavy early 90s classic "Timeless Altitude". In between these sounds, Fengler proves his technical prowess, moving effortlessly from the drones and broken beats of Dr Walker's take on Byteone and the Regis version of Tommy Four Seven's "G" into straighter, albeit bass-heavy techno and house from Duplex - remixing Gerd- and LB Dub Corp, who delivers a new, multi-layered take on Fengler's own "Thwack". Put simply, Fengler has that rare talent that most DJs lack - he can put together seemingly disparate tracks without losing the flow. The club he resides at provides Fengler with a blank canvas and this mix is his masterpiece.